Teenage Shakespeare

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of research into Shakespeare’s young adult years. From the time he would have finished grammar (elementary) school, until he began to write and act in London, next to nothing is known about his life. (See my post “Shakespeare at Hoghton Tower.)

This opens new opportunities for fiction writers who may want to do some speculating about what exactly happened during that time. Did Shakespeare continue his studies? Did he work? Fall in love? Was he an athlete? Did he poach deer from Sir Thomas Lucy’s land? Since no one really knows, anything goes!

Or does it? It seems to me that historical fiction must be grounded in the few facts we know, or that can be guessed at based on pretty solid evidence.


One YA novel in which a young Shakespeare is a main character is Carolyn Meyer’s Loving Will Shakespeare. It’s actually told from Anne Hathaway’s point of view. Meyer does an excellent job of mixing facts with her own creative insights.


One can only imagine what Shakespeare’s early marriage at age 18, to a woman eight years his senior, must have been like. Meyer depicts Anne as very much in love with young Will, and he a somewhat reluctant husband who is quickly drawn away to forge a career as a playwright and actor in London. It’s a world Anne will never be a part of, and the novel shows us her increasing unhappiness as her husband leaves her for longer and longer periods of time.

The book is filled with accurate period detail, rich language, and overall is a pretty realistic picture of what the relationship between Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway might have been like.

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